Lives at risk due to lack of first aiders in the office, warns St John Ambulance

first aidersThe health charity claims that, in the last fortnight, less than half (49 percent) of the 2,000 UK workers surveyed believed there was a designated first aider in their workplace.

This was despite 40 percent saying they had once witnessed an accident at work that required first aid – of which more than a quarter (27 percent) were life-threatening. Only four in 10 said they would know what to do in a health emergency themselves

Data from the Health and Safety Executive highlights 147 deaths occur at work each year – and St John Ambulance fears this number will increase after its research showed 49 percent of workers will be allowed to shift between home and office working for the foreseeable future.

Dr Lynn Thomas, Medical Director, St John Ambulance, commented: “There are very few silver linings to the cloud of coronavirus, but the rapid adoption of flexible working in many workplaces can make for improved health and wellbeing.

“All benefits come with risk, though, and we mustn’t let this progress undermine the decades of effort that have gone into making workplaces safer. As we get used to hybrid working, employers need to be mindful of their legal obligations to have appropriate numbers of first aiders on hand – all fully-trained, with the confidence to take charge in a medical emergency.

“Statutory responsibilities like updating risk assessments, and checking rotas to ensure enough people are at work on any given day may sound like dull tasks, but being on top of admin like that will save lives.”

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Employers need to be mindful of their legal obligations to have appropriate numbers of first aiders on hand”[/perfectpullquote]

Cardiac arrest was the most cited life-threatening condition in the survey, with a quarter of people who had witnessed serious first aid incidents naming it in the research. Others were allergic reactions (18 percent) and choking (13 percent). Nearly a fifth (17 percent) of workers said they were aware of a life being saved at work.

But despite this, only a tenth of those surveyed were able to say their employers had increased the number of first aiders in the workplace since the pandemic began and working practices radically changed.

To find out more about St John Ambulance workplace first aid training, visit

Image:St Johns Ambulance